The Corner

Thatcher: ‘They Would Rather Have the Poor Poorer’

This week, like so many these days, began with more bad news. (To paraphrase the blues lyric, if it weren’t for bad news, there would be no news at all.)

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, succumbed to a stroke overnight. She was 87.

As leader of the Conservative party and as the longest-serving British PM of the 20th century, Mrs. Thatcher rescued the United Kingdom from socialist stagnation and restored its strength, growth, and prosperity — up and down the income scale.

As National Review’s John O’Sullivan beautifully explains in The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister, Thatcher also worked very closely with President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II to pull down the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain, and the entire concept of Communism. They tugged, firmly and forcefully, and — as they imagined — the Wall crumbled on November 9, 1989. Barely a shot was fired.

Much more will be said about the Iron Lady by those who knew and worked with her. As one who admired her from a distance — save for the one evening when I was thrilled to see her speak up close at Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel — I simply recommend that readers see Mrs. Thatcher in action and at the height of her faculties.

In her very last appearance before the House of Commons, Prime Minister Thatcher was as unsinkable as ever. Even though John Major and a number of other Tory “wets” forced her to step aside (ushering in Major’s watered-down, Daddy Bush–style, “kinder, gentler” conservatism), Thatcher was as buoyant as ever.#more#

While her entire performance that afternoon is worth watching, Mrs. Thatcher’s comments are particularly timeless regarding the Left’s bloodhound-like obsession with income inequality.

When Simon Hughes (Liberal Democrat member of Parliament for Southwark and Bermondsey) asked about the gap between the wealthy and the needy, Prime Minister Thatcher replied unyieldingly:

“What the honorable member is saying is that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich,” she argued on November 22, 1990. She added: “So long as the gap is smaller, they would rather have the poor poorer. You do not create wealth and opportunity that way. You do not create a property-owning democracy that way.”

Mrs. Thatcher’s words were accompanied by a simple hand gesture, showing that the Left prefer a narrower gap between rich and poor, even if both are at a lower level, than a wider gap, where both the rich and poor are better off — albeit more so for the former.

This perfectly encapsulates Obama and the American Left’s entire attack on their No. 1 enemy, “the 1 percent.” The late prime minister’s response to this collectivist drivel is both vintage Thatcher and, 23 years on, exactly the answer that such destructive nonsense still deserves.

Requiescat in pace, Prime Minister. 

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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